We are Hiring (again)!

Manitoba IBA recently received funding through the province of Manitoba’s Green Team program to hire a Summer Assistant. We are excited to have another member of our summer staff come on board. See below for application information. A .pdf of this job posting is available upon request at iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Manitoba Important Bird Areas Summer Assistant

The Manitoba Important Bird Area (IBA) Program is hiring a Summer Assistant. This position is based out of Winnipeg and includes travel to various IBAs in southern Manitoba. The position is a 460-hour full-time contract at $13/hr – start date late May/ early June 2021.

For more information on the Manitoba IBA program, visit: http://importantbirdareasmb.ca.


Working closely with the IBA Coordinator, the responsibilities of the Program Assistant are to:

  • monitor the endangered Chimney Swift in urban areas of Manitoba, especially Winnipeg;
  • monitor populations of threatened birds in Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • assist with species at risk monitoring blitzes in Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • assist with organising events and activities for the Manitoba IBA Program;
  • provide outreach to landowners with the federally threatened bird species;
  • research and develop educational materials for landowners and the general public to promote Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • represent the IBA Program at meetings, local events and festivals in southern and central Manitoba;
  • data entry;
  • assist with Manitoba IBA blog site and social media set-up;
  • assist with volunteer and partner communications via email and phone;
  • other duties as assigned.


The successful applicant will have:

  • A minimum of 2 years of post-secondary education in biology, conservation or environmental science degree / diploma program
  • Knowledge of and demonstrated interest in the natural history of Manitoba
  • A keen interest in, knowledge of and ability to identify birds in Manitoba
  • Previous experience in environmental education and outreach is a strong asset
  • Experience with & knowledge of WordPress, Facebook and the Microsoft Office suite
  • Exceptional written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work well as a team and independently

Interested in applying?

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the position:

  • youth aged 15 to 29,
  • living in Manitoba, and
  • legally entitled to work in Canada.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should forward their resume and short 1 page cover letter as 1 PDF file by email to the IBA Coordinator at iba@naturemanitoba.ca (Subject line: IBA Summer Assistant) by Friday, May 14th, 2021. Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted.

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Earth Day is for the Birds!

Celebrate Earth Day this year by becoming more bird friendly! We know that bird populations are declining across Canada and globally, with some groups of birds declining more strongly than others. As individuals it is easy to feel overwhelmed – what can we do? Below are some concrete actions you can take starting on Earth Day and continuing year-round.

Window Collision Prevention

Window collisions are one of the leading causes of bird deaths in Canada. When people think of window collisions they often think of high-rise buildings, but actually by the numbers more birds collide with residential buildings – likely because there are more of them on the landscape. There are multiple products you can buy local or make yourself to reduce the impact of your windows.

Window cling from Charlotte’s Birdseed. Photo provided by Laura Meuckon.

Charlotte’s Birdseed is a Winnipeg-based small business that has partnered with Nature Manitoba to donate $2 from each window cling sold to bird conservation. This beautiful window cling plays double duty by breaking up the reflection of the outdoors in your window, as well as displaying a lovely piece of local art. You can find them at charlottesbirdseed.com/. When using window clings find one that is the right size for your window – ideally you want to have gaps of less than 5 cm or 2” around the clings.

For DIY solutions try strings or ribbons on the outside of your window, tempera paint or soap! If you have a bird feeder or bath in your yard placing it as close as possible to a window (0.5 m or less) can reduce window collision injuries as the short distance to the window means that a bird cannot gather as much momentum when hitting a window from the feeder. For more information on prevention of window collisions including commercial and DIY products see FLAP Canada.

Photo of my DIY Bird Saver. Instructions available from www.birdsavers.com/make-your-own/. It only took me a couple of hours and about $20 in supplies for three large windows. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Keep Cats and Birds Safe

Cats are the number one cause of bird death according to a study published in 2013 (A Synthesis of Human-related Avian Mortality in Canada). This includes both feral and domestic cats – which may hunt birds whether they are hungry or not. The best way to keep birds safe from cats (and cats safe as well) is keep cats from free-roaming outside. Perhaps the purrrfect project this spring is to build a catio (cat patio)! Catios allow cats to enjoy the outdoors without having a negative impact on nature, and keeping cats safe from dangers such as traffic. Check out this article from B.C.’s SPCA to learn about some of the key considerations in building your own catio and some build guides that fit the space you have: https://spca.bc.ca/news/how-to-build-a-catio/

Example of a catio. Photo from BC SPCA.

Spread the Word about Bird Habitats

An easy way to make an impact is to spread the word about the importance of habitat for birds. For many species a key reason for population decline is a loss of habitat. This habitat is different for each species but overall conservation of habitat is key and each habitat type has different drivers of decline.

Freshwater habitat – Freshwater habitat includes everything from temporary ponds formed by spring meltwater to the huge Lake Winnipeg. Common threats to freshwater habitat include climate change, pollution, invasive species, land use changes and drainage. To find out more about the ways in which freshwater habitat is key for bird species see our Freshwater Habitat Factsheet. Or visit our newly created Shorebird Scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh to see freshwater habitat conservation in action!  

A snowy shorebird scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh several weeks ago, it sure looks different now! I saw a Killdeer using the scrape last week. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Grassland habitat – Manitoba contains both tall-grass, and mixed-grass prairie habitat. Prairie habitat is key for birds that are grassland obligate species – birds that can only live on the prairies. This includes birds such as the Burrowing Owl and Chestnut-collared Longspur. Many grassland bird species are threatened or endangered. Threats to grassland habitat include conversion to other land uses, such as crop-land, and climate change. Advocating and spreading the word about the importance of grassland habitat is key to having people recognize the importance of this often under-appreciated habitat.

Forest habitat – Manitoba contains a variety of forested habitats from boreal to aspen woodlands. Common threats to forest habitat include clearing or breaking up the forest habitat used by birds, spraying of pesticides and climate change. Keeping remaining woodlots and forest habitats intact is key to help forest birds survive.

A Red-headed Woodpecker in a woodlot at the North, East and West Shoal Lakes IBA in 2020. Red-headed Woodpeckers are a threatened species under the federal Species at Risk Act. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Urban habitat – While urban habitat is not in danger of declining, the quality of the habitat within urban areas is not all equal. Providing food, water and shelter for birds that live in our city habitats can be key. This can include planting native plants that go to seed, reducing the use of pesticides to benefit insect-eating birds, and leaving brush in areas of your yard to provide shelter.

Volunteer with a Conservation Organization

Manitoba IBA has several different volunteer opportunities available for people of all birding skill levels. If you would like to know about volunteer opportunities as they come up, please email iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Some of our weed pull volunteers in 2020 doing an excellent job social distancing while improving the habitat for shorebirds at Riverton Sandy Bar IBA. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Bird Blitz Volunteers – Volunteers go out in groups to count and monitor bird populations in our Important Bird Areas. This gives us an idea of the health of the IBAs, general bird trends, outreach and education opportunities and is overall good fun!

Shoreline Clean-up and Weed Pull Volunteers – Manitoba IBA conducts weed pulls and shoreline clean-ups at our IBAs along Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. Abandoned fishing gear and other garbage can entangle birds but is easy to clean up! Invasive vegetation, such as burdock and sweet clover can take over a beach, growing over the open, sandy habitat that is key for some birds like Piping Plovers.

International Shorebird Survey (ISS) Volunteers – Are you interested in shorebirds? If you go birding along any of our ISS routes in Manitoba, please enter the checklist under the ISS protocol in ebird.org! If you would like to learn more about shorebird ID we would be glad to partner you with an experienced volunteer to learn the ropes.

IBA Caretaker Volunteers – If you tend to visit your local IBA multiple times a year, you may be interested in becoming an IBA caretaker for that IBA. Our Caretakers submit regular bird reports to us from their IBA. See here for more information.

New Materials Available for Wetland Habitats in Manitoba IBAs

La version français suit…

With funding from the EcoAction Community Program Grant, Manitoba IBA was able to create and translate new materials for volunteers and the public to use.

Our popular Shorebird Identification Cards and Wetland Bird Identification Cards are now available in both English and French. These laminated cards have a photo, size and a brief descriptor of shorebirds and common wetland birds of Manitoba. They fold up and are easy to store in your pocket as a quick reference guide. You can find them here, or contact us for a paper copy in either language at iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

This spring will be the first full year for the new Shorebird Scrape that was built at Oak Hammock Marsh last year. A scrape is a shallow, low-lying depression in the ground. Scrapes have been used to create habitat for shorebirds in Europe, but to our knowledge this is the first time it has been tried in Manitoba. Scrapes create gently sloping bare shoreline habitat and shallow water habitat that is custom-made for shorebirds to be able to feed. Scrapes are fed by snow-melt and rainfall so we expect the scrape will have its first full year of potential on display this spring (as it was built last autumn).

In addition to creating shorebird habitat our wetland scrape can have a variety of other uses such as:

  • Creating habitat for many other plants and animals that use shallow water and shoreline habitats
  • Storage of water on the landscape
  • Flood reduction
  • Water filtration for excess nutrients and other pollution
  • Recreation – birding and other wildlife viewing.

If you are curious about shorebird scrapes or freshwater habitat, we have two new factsheets available on our website to help! Our Manitoba’s First Shorebird Scrape factsheet provides more information about this new-to-Manitoba conservation tool, and our Freshwater Habitat for Birds in Manitoba factsheet has a variety of information and tips on how you can help keep our freshwater habitats in Manitoba healthy. Our factsheets are available in English and French. You can find both factsheets here, or contact us for a paper copy.

Nouveaux matériaux disponibles pour les habitats des terres humides dans les ZICO du Manitoba

Grâce au financement de la subvention du programme communautaire ÉcoAction, la ZICO du Manitoba a pu créer et traduire de nouveaux documents à l’usage des bénévoles et du public.

Nos cartes populaires d’identification des oiseaux de rivage et des oiseaux des milieux humides sont maintenant disponibles en anglais et en français. Ces cartes plastifiées comportent une photo, la taille et une brève description des oiseaux de rivage et des oiseaux communs des milieux humides du Manitoba. Elles se plient et sont faciles à ranger dans votre poche comme guide de référence rapide. Vous pouvez les trouver ici, ou nous contacter pour obtenir une copie papier dans l’une ou l’autre langue à iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Ce printemps sera la première année complète d’utilisation du nouvel étrépage pour oiseaux de rivage qui a été construit au marais Oak Hammock l’année dernière. Un étrépage est une dépression peu profonde et de faible hauteur dans le sol. Les étrépages ont été utilisés pour créer un habitat pour les oiseaux de rivage en Europe, mais à notre connaissance, c’est la première fois qu’il est essayé au Manitoba. Les étrépages créent un habitat de rivage nu en pente douce et un habitat d’eau peu profonde qui est fait sur mesure pour que les oiseaux de rivage puissent se nourrir. Les étrépages sont alimentés par la fonte des neiges et les précipitations, de sorte que nous prévoyons que l’étrépage aura sa première année complète de potentiel en démonstration ce printemps (puisqu’il a été construit l’automne dernier).

En plus de créer un habitat pour les oiseaux de rivage, notre étrépage des zones humides peut avoir une variété d’autres utilisations telles que :

– La création d’un habitat pour de nombreuses autres plantes et animaux qui utilisent les eaux peu profondes et les habitats du littoral

– Le stockage de l’eau dans le paysage

– la réduction des inondations

– La filtration de l’eau pour l’excès de nutriments et autres polluants

– Les loisirs : bservation des oiseaux et d’autres espèces sauvages.

Si vous êtes curieux au sujet des étrépages d’oiseaux de rivage ou des habitats d’eau douce, nous avons deux nouvelles fiches d’information disponibles sur notre site Web pour vous aider ! Notre fiche d’information sur le premier étrépage à limicoles du Manitoba fournit plus d’information sur ce nouvel outil de conservation au Manitoba et notre fiche d’information sur les habitats d’eau douce pour les oiseaux au Manitoba contient une variété d’informations et de conseils sur la façon dont vous pouvez aider à garder nos habitats d’eau douce en bonne santé au Manitoba. Nos fiches d’information sont disponibles en anglais et en français. Vous pouvez trouver les deux fiches ici, ou nous contacter pour obtenir une copie papier dans l’une ou l’autre langue à iba@naturemanitoba.ca.  

We are Hiring!

Manitoba IBA is hiring for two positions this summer. We are looking for a Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician, as well as a Species at Risk Assistant for the 2021 field season. Please continue reading for both job descriptions.

Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician

The Manitoba Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program is hiring a Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician. Communication will be necessary with staff in Winnipeg, but this job can be based anywhere in Manitoba. It includes a significant period of travel in southwestern Manitoba. Salary is $3,000- $3,300 CDN per month (based on experience) plus reimbursement for travel costs. Contract length is flexible at around 12 weeks. For more information on the Manitoba IBA Areas program, visit: http://importantbirdareasmb.ca


  • Work with the IBA Program Coordinator and other partner organizations to plan field season in southwestern Manitoba;
  • Conduct grassland breeding bird surveys on private pastureland in southwestern Manitoba;
  • Liaise with grassland landowners to arrange surveys and provide outreach on grassland birds in southwestern Manitoba;
  • Multi-night travel to southwestern Manitoba during the breeding bird season;
  • Data management, data entry and basic statistical analysis for results of grassland bird surveys;
  • Writing personalized report for each participating landowner and final season-end report to Manitoba IBA and project funders;
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • A minimum of an undergraduate degree in biology, conservation or environmental science degree / diploma program;
  • Strong knowledge and ability to identify Manitoba grassland birds by sight and sound;
  • Previous experience conducting point counts and/ or surveying birds using other sampling methods;
  • Ability to plan and work independently as well as collaborate remotely as part of a team;
  • Comfortable and experienced in working safely in remote environments and around cattle;
  • Experience with and knowledge of Microsoft office, GPS, and navigation using legal land maps;
  • Organized with a strong attention to detail;
  • Previous experience in environmental education and outreach is a strong asset;
  • Valid Driver’s License.

Start Date:

May 2021

Interested in applying?

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the position:

  • Living in Manitoba;
  • Legally entitled to work in Canada.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should forward their resume and short 1 page cover letter as 1 PDF file by email to the IBA Coordinator at iba@naturemanitoba.ca (Subject line: Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician) by March 29, 2021.

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Avian Species at Risk Assistant

The Manitoba Important Bird Area (IBA) Program is hiring an Avian Species at Risk Assistant. This position is based out of Winnipeg and includes travel to various IBAs in southern and central Manitoba. This position will include some weekend work. The position is a 500-hour full-time contract at $13/ hr – start date May 2021.

For more information on the Manitoba IBA program, visit: http://importantbirdareasmb.ca.


Working closely with the IBA Coordinator, the responsibilities of the Avian Species at Risk Assistant are to:

  • monitor populations of threatened birds in Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • assist with organising events and activities for the Manitoba IBA Program, such as bird blitzes;
  • provide outreach to landowners with the federally threatened Red-headed Woodpecker, Eastern Whip-poor-will and various shorebird species at risk;
  • research and develop educational materials for landowners and the general public to promote education of species at risk;
  • represent the IBA Program at meetings, local events and festivals in southern and central Manitoba;
  • assist with Manitoba IBA blog site and social media;
  • assist with volunteer and partner communications via email and phone;
  • other duties as assigned.


  • A minimum of 2 years of post-secondary education in biology, conservation or environmental science degree / diploma program;
  • A keen interest in, knowledge of and ability to identify birds in Manitoba;
  • Previous experience in environmental education and outreach is a strong asset;
  • Experience with & knowledge of WordPress, Facebook and the Microsoft Office suite;
  • Exceptional written and interpersonal communication skills;
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • Ability to work well as a team and independently;
  • Valid Drivers license is required.

Interested in applying?

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the position:

  • Living in Manitoba; and
  • Legally entitled to work in Canada.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should forward their resume and short 1 page cover letter as 1 PDF file by email to the IBA Coordinator at iba@naturemanitoba.ca (Subject line: Avian Species at Risk Assistant) by March 29th, 2021.

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

International Shorebird Survey Summary 2020

La version français suit…

Lynnea surveying for shorebirds at the end of ISS Route West 3 at Whitewater Lake. Photo by A. Shave.

The International Shorebird Survey is an international monitoring program started by Manomet. In spring 2018 members of the Manitoba IBA program, Westman Naturalists and others participated in a workshop with Manomet to enable us to start this monitoring program in Manitoba.

Our two surveys sites are Whitewater Lake (3 routes on the west side of the IBA and 4 routes on the east side), and Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes (5 routes). Normally the monitoring includes each route being surveyed 3 times in the spring and 3 times in the fall each year. However, this year with COVID-19, normal monitoring efforts were not possible.

However, we did still want to gather some data on these ISS routes, and so surveys were done when safe, and when possible according to provincial and federal health guidelines. While this year’s data as a whole is not able to be directly compared to survey efforts in the past (due to difference in sampling effort), below are our results from our spring and fall ISS surveys in 2020. Although all species seen are recorded under the ISS protocol, only shorebird species are reported below.

A big thank you to Glennis, Gillian, Lynnea and Christian, our volunteers who helped with ISS this year! Also thank you to Nate and Alyssa, our summer assistants who learned fall shorebird ID on the fly.

Spring 2020 Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes IBA

We were only able to get out once to monitor 2 of the 5 routes at Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes this spring due to uncertainty about COVID-19 and travel advisories. A total of 6 species were seen (plus some unidentified shorebird species seen in the distance).

Fall 2020 Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes

All ISS routes at Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes were visited at least once (1-3 visits per site) over the course of 3 trips by the IBA program and volunteers. A total of 11 species were seen (in addition to some unidentified “peeps”).

Spring 2020 Whitewater Lake Results

We were able to visit Whitewater Lake 4 times this spring, although each route was run a different number of times. Some routes we were able to run according to ISS protocol (3 or more surveys), others that are harder to access were only surveyed once. A total of 25 shorebird species were seen during spring surveys, with a few unidentified shorebird species and “peep” species mixed in.

A highlight of the Whitewater Lake spring surveys for myself was a nice view of some Whimbrels landing in a field while Lynnea and I were surveying on the east side of Whitewater Lake. If we had not seen them fly in, I don’t think we would have noticed them, they were so camouflaged with the habitat, and at quite a distance. On the flip side, on the same trip but on the west side of the lake Lynnea and I encountered a large number of tiny parachuting spiders which was not nearly so nice.

You can see why Whitewater Lake is a great place for birds that eat insects! So many midges in late May. Photo by A. Shave.

Fall 2020 Whitewater Lake

Whitewater Lake sites were visited between 1-5 times each over a course of 8 trips by the IBA program and volunteers. A total of 23 species were identified (with additional unidentified shorebird species and “peep” species).

Future International Shorebird Surveys

During the periods where the Manitoba IBA program could not travel to western Manitoba, we stayed closer to home to explore some new opportunities for shorebird surveys in central/eastern Manitoba. Stay tuned for more information on this!

If you are interested in learning more about shorebird Identification or about volunteering to be part of the International Shorebird Survey, please contact Amanda at iba@naturemanitoba.ca. Volunteering as part of the shorebird survey can be as easy as running a route while out birding in the area, and we are happy to provide personalized, hands-on training in the field!

Résumé du Recensement international des oiseaux limicoles 2020

Lynnea recensant des oiseaux de rivages à la fin de la route 3 Ouest du RIOL au Lac Whitewater. Photo d’A. Shave.

Le recensement international des oiseaux limicoles est un programme de suivi international initié par Manomet. Au printemps 2018, les membres du programme de ZICO Manitoba, des naturalistes de Westman et d’autres personnes ont participé à un atelier offert par Manomet afin de pouvoir commencer ce programme de dénombrement au Manitoba.

Nos deux sites de suivi sont le Lac Whitewater (3 routes du côté ouest de la ZICO et 4 routes du côté est), et aux Lac Oak / Lacs PLum (5 routes). En temps normal, le suivi annuel de chaque route est fait 3 fois au printemps et 3 fois à l’automne. Toutefois, en raison de la COVID-19, nos activités normales de dénombrement n’ont pas été possibles cette année.

Cependant, nous voulions toujours recueillir certaines données sur ces routes du RIOL, donc les recensements ont été faits lorsqu’il était sécuritaire et possible de le faire selon les recommandations fédérales et provinciales de la santé. Même si les données de cette année ne peuvent pas être directement comparées aux efforts des suivis des années précédentes (dû à la différence de l’échantillonnage), les résultats des suivis du RIOL du printemps et de l’automne 2020 sont présentés ci-bas. Bien que toutes les espèces observées soient consignées dans le protocole du RIOL, seules les espèces limicoles font l’objet de ce rapport.

Un grand merci à Glennis, Gillian, Lynnea et Christian, nos bénévoles aux RICO de cette année, ainsi qu’à Nate et Alyssa, nos assistants d’été qui ont appris à identifier les limicoles à la volée.

Lac Oak/ Lacs Plum au printemps 2020

Nous n’avons pu recenser que 2 des 5 routes aux Lac Oak / Lacs Plum ce printemps suite aux restrictions de voyage. En tout, 6 espèces ont été observées (plus quelques autres espèces limicoles non-identifiées au loin).

Lac Oak / Lacs Plum à l’automne 2020

Toutes les routes de la ZICO des Oak Lake/ Plum Lakesont été recensées au moins une fois (1-3 visites par site) lors de trois visites par le programme ZICO et les bénévoles. En tout, 11 espèces ont été observées (en plus de quelques bécasseaux non-identifiés).

Résultats au Lac Whitewater au printemps 2020

Nous avons pu visiter le Lac Whitewater quatre fois ce printemps, quoique chaque route a été visitée un différent nombre de fois. Le protocole du RIOL (3 recensements ou plus) a été respecté pour certaines routes, mais celles étant difficiles d’accès n’ont été visitées qu’une seule fois. En tout, 25 espèces limicoles ont été observées lors de ces recensements, en plus de quelques espèces limicoles non-identifiées.

À mon avis, le point saillant des recensements printaniers du Lac Whitewater a été la découverte de quelques courlis corlieux alors que Lynnea et moi recensions la rive est du Lac Whitewater. S’ils n’étaient pas arrivés en volant, je ne crois pas que nous les aurions remarqués tant ils se camouflaient bien dans leur habitat, en plus d’être éloignés. En revanche, lors de la même excursion mais sur la rive ouest du lac, Lynnea et moi avons croisé un nombre incroyable de minuscules araignées se laissant porter par le vent, ce qui était moins agréable.

Comme vous pouvez le voir, le Lac Whitewater est un très bon endroit pour les oiseaux se nourrissant d’insectes! Il y a énormément de moucherons à la fin mai. Photo d’A. Shave.

Lac Whitewater à l’automne 2020

Les sites du Lac Whitewater ont été visités de 1 à 5 fois chacun lors de 8 voyages faits par les bénévoles du programme ZICO. 23 espèces ont été identifiées en tout (en plus des espèces limicoles non-identifiées).

Les prochains Recensements internationaux des oiseaux limicoles

Lorsque le programme des ZICO Manitoba ne pouvaient pas se rendre dans l’ouest du Manitoba, nous nous restions en région afin d’explorer de nouveaux sites pour les recensements de limicoles dans le centre et l’est du Manitoba.  Nous vous ferons parvenir plus d’information à ce sujet!

Si vous voulez en apprendre davantage au sujet de l’identification des limicoles ou pour devenir bénévole du Recensement international des oiseaux limicoles, veuillez contacter Amanda à iba@naturemanitoba.ca. Être bénévole pour un recensement de limicoles est aussi simple que de suivre un itinéraire tout en observant les oiseaux dans la région, et il nous fera plaisir de vous offrir une formation personnalisée sur le terrain!

World Wetlands Day

La version français suit…

February 2nd may be known more widely as Groundhog Day in Canada, but did you know it is also World Wetland Day? As so many of our Important Bird Areas in Manitoba contain wetland habitat, it is only fitting that we have a blog post to celebrate all that wetlands do for us and the birds!

A Red-winged Blackbird at Oak Hammock Marsh. Photo by A. Shave

What makes wetlands such good habitat?

Shallow water in wetlands means that light penetrates to the bottom of the water column, which promotes plant growth and provides habitat for many small insects and crustaceans. Some of these insects will spend all their lives in water, while others will leave the water as adults. All this insect life is an excellent food source for birds from warblers to ducks.

Additionally, wetlands provide excellent habitat for birds that are adapted to live there. Plants often grow thick and tall in wetlands (such as cattail and bulrush) that provide good places to hide nests from predators. Nesting in areas higher ground surrounded by water, or floating nests also means that also provides safety from predators looking to snack on eggs or young birds.

What services do wetlands provide to people?

Wetlands provide many services to people, that we often don’t consider in our day to day lives:

  • Water storage – Wetlands store water in times of excess precipitation, and provide a reservoir of water in times of less precipitation.
  •  Flood control – Related to water storage, wetlands as natural flood control measures is key in southern Manitoba. Wetlands are able to store both water from winter snow melt, and spring precipitation. Without wetlands this water would drain fast off the landscape, leading to more flooding.
  • Shoreline stabilization – Wetlands protect against erosion caused by wave action and storms. We see this in action at Delta Marsh (south end of Lake Manitoba) and Netley-Libau Marsh (south end of Lake Winnipeg), which protect the shoreline against wave action caused by northerly winds.
  • Water purification – As water moves very slowly through wetlands, they can trap excess nutrients (like phosphorus), sediments and heavy metals that get taken up by plant roots or are trapped in the wetland bottoms.
  • And more!

Manitoba Wetland IBAs

Manitoba has many wetland IBAs. Here are a couple of highlights:

Oak Hammock Marsh – An easy drive from Winnipeg, Oak Hammock Marsh is a RAMSAR wetland. It is constructed through a series of human-made dikes. These dikes allow water levels in different areas of the marsh to be artificially raised and lowered to provide a variety of water levels and habitats. Oak Hammock Marsh is also where you will find the shorebird scrape – a first-of-its-kind habitat constructed in Manitoba for shorebirds in summer 2020.

While Oak Hammock Marsh looks frozen over in February for World Wetlands Day – it is still key habitat for our resident birds. Photo by A. Shave

Delta Marsh – Just 15 minutes north of Portage la Prairie, Delta Marsh is also a RAMSAR wetland. Delta marsh hosts many different species of birds due to the combination of marsh, lake and a treed sand ridge habitat. High counts of birds using the marsh in recent years include Bonaparte’s Gull (6,710 in 2018), Franklin’s Gull (15,000 in 2020) and Semipalmated Plover (1,905 in 2016).

Delta Marsh at sunset. Photo A. Shave

Douglas Marsh – near to Brandon, Douglas marsh is actually a type of wetland called a fen. Fens are wetlands that have a lot of organic material (peat), as well as a continuous flow of surface and/or groundwater. They are usually dominated by grasses and sedges. Douglas Marsh IBA is best known for its population of Yellow Rails. They are a secretive species that are more often heard than seen. Listen after dark for a sound like rocks clacking together to identify the Yellow Rail.

Pectoral Sandpipers using wetland habitat at Shoals Lakes during a 2020 bird blitz. Photo by A. Shave

Manitoba has many, many more IBAs that are key breeding and/or migratory stopover habitat for our birds. If you are interested in exploring Manitoba’s wetland IBAs stay tuned for volunteer opportunities with bird blitzes and the International Shorebird Survey coming this spring with Manitoba IBA.

Journée mondiale des zones humides

Le 2 février est peut-être plus largement connu comme la Journée de la marmotte au Canada, mais saviez-vous que c’est aussi la Journée mondiale des zones humides ? Comme un grand nombre de nos zones primordiales pour les oiseaux au Manitoba contiennent des habitats de zones humides, il est tout à fait approprié que nous postions un article de blog pour célébrer tout ce que les zones humides font pour nous et les oiseaux !

Un carouge à épaulettes à marais de Oak Hammock. Photo d’A. Shave.

Qu’est-ce qui fait des zones humides un si bon habitat ?

Les eaux peu profondes des zones humides signifient que la lumière pénètre jusqu’au fond de la colonne d’eau, ce qui favorise la croissance des plantes et fournit un habitat à de nombreux petits insectes et crustacés. Certains de ces insectes passeront toute leur vie dans l’eau, tandis que d’autres la quitteront à l’âge adulte. Toute cette vie d’insectes est une excellente source de nourriture pour les oiseaux, des parulines aux canards.

De plus, les zones humides offrent un excellent habitat aux oiseaux qui sont adaptés pour y vivre. Les plantes poussent souvent en hauteur et en épaisseur dans les zones humides (comme les quenouilles et les joncs) qui offrent de bons endroits pour cacher les nids des prédateurs. Le fait de nicher dans des zones plus élevées entourées d’eau ou dans des nids flottants permet également de se mettre à l’abri des prédateurs qui cherchent à picorer les œufs ou dévorer les jeunes oiseaux.

Quels services les zones humides fournissent-elles aux personnes ?

Les zones humides fournissent de nombreux services aux personnes, dont nous ne tenons souvent pas compte dans notre vie quotidienne :

  • Stockage de l’eau – Les zones humides stockent l’eau en cas de précipitations excessives et constituent un réservoir d’eau lorsque les précipitations sont plus faibles.
  • Contrôle des inondations – En ce qui concerne le stockage de l’eau, les zones humides comme mesures naturelles de contrôle des inondations sont essentielles dans le sud du Manitoba. Les zones humides sont capables de stocker à la fois l’eau de la fonte des neiges en hiver et les précipitations du printemps. Sans les zones humides, cette eau s’écoulerait rapidement hors du paysage, ce qui entraînerait davantage d’inondations.
  • Stabilisation du littoral – Les zones humides protègent contre l’érosion causée par l’action des vagues et des tempêtes. On le voit en action au marais Delta (extrémité sud du lac Manitoba) et au marais Netley-Libau (extrémité sud du lac Winnipeg), qui protègent le littoral contre l’action des vagues causées par les vents du nord.
  • Purification de l’eau – Comme l’eau se déplace très lentement dans les zones humides, elle peut piéger l’excès de nutriments (comme le phosphore), les sédiments et les métaux lourds qui sont absorbés par les racines des plantes ou sont piégés dans le fond des zones humides…
  • Et plus encore !

ZICO des zones humides du Manitoba

Le Manitoba compte de nombreuses ZICO de zones humides. En voici quelques exemples :

Marais de Oak Hammock – A quelques minutes de route de Winnipeg, le marais de Oak Hammock est une zone humide RAMSAR. Il est construit grâce à une série de digues construites par l’homme. Ces digues permettent d’élever et d’abaisser artificiellement le niveau de l’eau dans différentes zones du marais afin d’offrir une variété de niveaux d’eau et d’habitats. Le marais Oak Hammock est également l’endroit où vous trouverez le grattage des oiseaux de rivage – un habitat unique en son genre construit au Manitoba pour les oiseaux de rivage à l’été 2020.

Alors que le marais de Oak Hammock semble gelé en février pour la Journée mondiale des zones humides, il reste un habitat important pour nos oiseaux d’hiver. Photo d’A. Shave.

Marais du Delta – A 15 minutes au nord de Portage la Prairie, le marais du Delta est également une zone humide RAMSAR. Le marais du Delta abrite de nombreuses espèces d’oiseaux différentes en raison de la combinaison du marais et d’une crête de sable couverte d’arbres. Parmi les oiseaux qui ont fréquenté le marais ces dernières années, on compte la mouette de Bonaparte (6,710 en 2018), la mouette de Franklin (15,000 en 2020) et le Pluvier semipalmé (1,905 en 2016).

Marais du Delta au coucher du soleil. Photo d’A. Shave.

Marais de Douglas – près de Brandon, le marais de Douglas est en fait un type de zone humide appelée marécage. Les marécages sont des zones humides qui contiennent beaucoup de matière organique (tourbe), ainsi qu’un flux continu de surface et/ou d’eau souterraine. Ils sont généralement dominés par des herbes et des carex. La ZICO du marais Douglas est surtout connue pour sa population de râles jaunes. Il s’agit d’une espèce secrète qui est plus souvent entendue que vue. La nuit, écoutez le bruit de pierres qui s’entrechoquent pour identifier le râle jaune.

Bécasseau à poitrine cendrée utilisant l’habitat des terres humides des lacs Shoals. Photo d’A. Shave

Si vous êtes intéressé par l’exploration des ZICO du Manitoba, restez à l’écoute pour connaître les possibilités de bénévolat dans le cadre des campagnes de chasse aux oiseaux et de l’International Shorebird Survey qui aura lieu ce printemps dans les ZICO du Manitoba.

COSEWIC Updates 2020

‘Tis the time of year again – not the holiday season – instead the annual COSEWIC meeting. COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) is an independent advisory panel that provides information to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Canada. They are responsible for identifying and assessing the conservation status of wildlife species in Canada.

At COSEWIC meetings Species Specialist Subcommittees (say that three times fast!) meet to determine changes to COSEWIC wildlife rankings and determine the urgency for wildlife species to receive COSEWIC assessments. These rankings sort wildlife candidates into different risk categories (special concern, threatened, endangered, extirpated) after an assessment and different priority categories (high, mid and low priority) prior to a COSEWIC assessment.

Changes to Species at Risk Status:

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs was assessed by COSEWIC as Threatened. Previously Lesser Yellowlegs was a Priority for assessment by COSEWIC. Lesser Yellowlegs can be found in many of our IBAs such as Whitewater, Oak Lake/ Plum Lake, Shoal Lakes and Oak Hammock Marsh IBA, just to name a few.

Lesser Yellowlegs. Photo by Christian Artuso.

Canada Warbler

Some good news here! Previously ranked as Threatened by COSEWIC, now re-assessed as Special Concern. While we don’t have an IBA specifically triggered by the Canada Warbler, we do sometimes get a glimpse of them during migration season. Otherwise look for them in the Boreal Forest during breeding season.

Canada Warbler. Photo by Dale Bonk/Audubon Photography Awards

Bird Species up for Assessment in 2021:

Horned Lark– High Priority

Seven of the eight subspecies are listed as priorities for COSEWIC assessment. The eighth subspecies is already listed as endangered. Subspecies of Horned Lark listed as occurring in Manitoba are the Saskatchewan Horned Lark, Hoyt’s Horned Lark and the Desert Horned Lark. Long term declines of these subspecies range from 52%-89% (1970-2018) and short-term declines range from 15%-42% (2008-2018) from sources such as the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count.

Horned Lark. Photo by Christoph Moning/ Cornell All About Birds

Snowy Owl – High Priority

Snowy Owl populations are thought to have declined to approximately 15% of their historical numbers worldwide. The Snowy Owl breeds on the northern edges of Manitoba and northward on the arctic tundra. We more often see Snowy Owls in Manitoba during the winter season. Threats contributing to this decline are mostly unknown, but the rapid pace of climate change is likely a key driver on the breeding grounds.

Snowy Owl. Photo by Mark Benavides/ Cornell All About Birds.

Other species still on candidate list from prior to 2020:

Sanderling – High Priority

Pectoral Sandpiper – High Priority

Stilt Sandpiper – High Priority

Dunlin – High Priority

Semipalmated Sandpiper – High Priority

Killdeer – High Priority

Whimbrel – High Priority

Connecticut Warbler – High Priority

Le Conte’s Sparrow – Mid Priority

Upland Sandpiper – Mid Priority

Long-billed Dowitcher – Mid Priority

American Golden Plover – Mid priority

Purple Martin – Mid Priority

Blackpoll Warbler – Mid Priority

Arctic Tern – Mid Priority

Black Tern – Low Priority

Western Wood-Pewee – Low Priority

Brewer’s Blackbird – Low Priority

American Kestrel – Low Priority

Pine Siskin – Low Priority

If you are interested in other types of wildlife discussed in recent COSEWIC meetings check out the links below:

Summary of COSEWIC Wildlife Species Assessments, November 2020

COSEWIC Candidate Wildlife Species

IBA Bird Highlights of 2020

La version français suit…

Piping Plovers at Whitewater Lake IBA

Piping Plover have been seen on the west side of Whitewater Lake multiple times in past years. We are excited to report that there were multiple Piping Plover sightings this year at Whitewater Lake. The first sighting this year was by three Manitoba birders on May 15th, 2020, and the second Piping Plover happened at on July 13th. There were multiple sightings of a pair of plovers and it was assumed that a breeding attempt failed. Regardless, still exciting observations for Manitoba and we will keep our fingers crossed for next breeding season!

The Piping Plover is listed as an endangered species in both Canada and Manitoba.

Whooping Cranes at Whitewater Lake IBA

Another set of exciting sightings from Whitewater Lake this year!

A single Whooping Crane was spotted at Whitewater Lake on April 21, 2020, likely on spring migration.

Next, a Whooping Crane was seen by a birder on July 26, 2020. This bird was not banded, so likely a Whooping Crane that came from the Wood Buffalo National Park breeding population. On August 20-22 several birders once again saw what was likely the same crane on the west side of Whitewater Lake near to where the July sighting took place. This sighting definitely would have needed a spotting scope as the crane was very far off in the distance, in the middle of a farmer’s wheatfield.

Whooping Cranes are listed as an endangered species in Canada and Manitoba.

Tundra Swans at Saskatchewan River Delta IBA

Joel Kayer’s springtime count of (mostly) Tundra Swans in the Carrot Valley (near The Pas), netted the Saskatchewan River Delta IBA an IBA trigger for a large congregation of species. He counted 26,111 individuals over approximately two hours on May 7, 2020. This count surpassed the global and regional IBA thresholds (3000 and 1900 individuals respectively).

It seemed like the habitat and weather created the “perfect storm” for swans, as Joel observed “Perfect conditions with all swamps and lakes frozen to the north.  Lots of sheet water over ample crop residue and crops still in swath”. Lots of local food, and the inability of swans to move further north, likely created a bottle neck in the Carrot Valley.

Sabine’s Gull at Delta Marsh IBA and Saskatchewan River Delta IBA

Sabine’s Gull. Photo by C. Nikkel.

An immature Sabine’s Gull was spotted and photographed at the Delta Beach area of Delta Marsh IBA by Cam Nikkel on September 7th. Sabine’s Gulls are small gulls with forked tails and unique colouration, that is a standout from other gull species. They breed in the high arctic and overwinter in coastal central America. However, despite the migration flight path you might expect (as the crow flies), instead most individuals migrate along the west coast, and thus they are not commonly seen on migration in central Canada.

Sabine’s Gull (right) with Ring-billed Gull. Photo by C. Nikkel.

David Raitt also saw a Sabine’s Gull this year; his record was at Sunset Beach on Clearwater Lake (Saskatchewan River Delta IBA). This sighting took place on June 11th.

Franklin’s Gulls at Delta Marsh IBA

Cal Cuthbert hit an IBA trigger with his count of Franklin’s Gulls at Delta Marsh. He counted 15,000 gulls on September 5, 2020. The IBA trigger was for a large congregation of a single species, with the global and regional IBA thresholds for Franklin’s gulls at 9,800 individuals for both triggers. This has not been a one-time occurrence for Cal, he also mentioned “From my experiences over the years out here (mainly pre eBird) many FRGU [Franklin’s Gull] concentrations have typically numbered into the thousands, occasionally tens of thousands, especially pre fall migration”.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Delta Marsh IBA

There have been multiple sightings of Lesser Black-backed Gulls this year at Delta Marsh IBA. The first sighting was during spring migration on May 5th at Delta Beach by Cal. It was first seen on Provincial Road 227 near the landfill, and then seen on a sandbar on the east side of the eastern most beach on May 24th. Sightings continued periodically on and near the Road 227 landfill until September 17th. The number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls ranged from 1-3 individuals seen at one time during the season; however, photos permitting a comparison of markings show that at least four were present, although only one was an adult.

Harlequin Ducks at Delta Marsh IBA and Willow Island

A female or immature Harlequin Duck was spotted at Delta Marsh IBA by Rob Parsons and Jo Swartz on October 24th. It was difficult to spot due to wave action in the water off Delta Beach. This is not the first Harlequin Duck spotted at the IBA. One was seen in 2016 during an IBA blitz by Matt Gasner near St Ambroise at the end of August.

Another Harlequin Duck was also spotted this fall near Gimli (Willow Island Road) by Jan Bradley on November 8th.

Late Season Virginia Rail at Netley-Libau Marsh IBA

While not a rare species, a late season Virginia Rail was found (deceased) in a yard site in Netley-Libau Marsh IBA on November 4th. The bird was found by Dan and Allison, and news was passed along by IBA caretakers Ryon and Hazel Blenderhassett. Other eBird records for Virginia Rails in the area are primarily for June and July, with one seen in September.

Burrowing Owl in Southwestern Mixed Grass Prairie IBA

Wild Burrowing Owl seen at one of the nest sites in southwestern Manitoba. Photo by C. Artuso.

Two wild Burrowing Owl nests were reported in southwestern Manitoba this year by the Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program (MBORP). MBORP runs captive-release and monitoring of burrowing owls in the region, so they keep track of where nests and owls are location – as thus know when a wild owl is reported (as opposed to a captive-release individual). So not only were there wild burrowing owls at these sites, there were also two successful nests by two wild owl pairs. These records are the first records of wild Burrowing Owls breeding in Manitoba since 2011.

One pair nested in the Southwestern Mixed-Grass Prairie IBA. This pair was reported by the landowner who saw the male standing on a fence post. This The landowner then contacted MBORP, who assessed that the site had a nest. This pair of owls used an artificial nest burrow that was installed by MBORP in 2017. The owls at this site fledged six young.

Burrowing Owl Young from the nest in the Southwestern Mixed-Grass Prairie IBA banded by MBORP. Photo from MBORP.

The second pair nested near Whitewater Lake IBA was spotted by Alex of MBORP while driving around the southwest. She said “The other nest I found while driving around in southwestern MB. I spotted a male owl fly to a burrow. I observed from a distance for quite some time and then spotted the female.” This pair nested in a naturally occurring badger burrow. The owls at this site fledged five young.

If you would like to know more about the Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program (and read the stories of these owls as they unfolded this past summer) check out MBORP’s Facebook or Twitter pages.

Burrowing Owls are listed as endangered at both a federal and provincial level.

Chestnut-collared Longspurs at Ellice-Archie Spyhill IBA

This sighting comes to us courtesy of Tim Poole, who was conducting bird counts at the Ellice-Archie Community Pasture. He recorded a checklist of 67 Chestnut-collared Longspurs in one day during a survey on June 23, 2020. This is an IBA trigger for the number of pairs. The next day Tim saw another 28 Longspurs in a different portion of the IBA.

Chestnut-collared Longspurs are listed as threated at a federal and provincial level.

Smith’s Longspur at Riverton Sandy Bar IBA

The Smith’s Longspur(s) seen at Riverton Sandy Bar IBA also deserves a mention on this list. They were first spotted on fall migration on September 24th by Joanne, caretaker of the IBA, on the sandspit. eBird.org checklists also list the Longspur on September 26th and 27th both on the sandspit and near the Sandy Bar parking lot. While Longspurs migrate through Riverton Sandy Bar their small size, cryptic colouration (similar between species) and tendency to be inflight (rather than still) makes identification of the Smith’s Longspur certainly tricky! On one previous occasion, we recorded this seldom seen species during one of our weed pulls on the sandbar.

Smith’s Longspur. Photo by J. Smith

Other sightings of Smith’s Longspurs this year have been near Altona (spring migration), Fort Whyte Alive in Winnipeg (fall migration), and Grand Beach/Grand Marais (fall migration).

Purple Sandpiper at Churchill and Vicinity IBA

With increased caution about travel this season, there have been fewer birding reports coming out of northern Manitoba. One interesting report we did hear about was the presence of a Purple Sandpiper this fall in Churchill and Vicinity IBA. The Purple Sandpiper was reported by James Barber on October 23rd, 2020. It was spotted approximately halfway between the town of Churchill and the airport.

Purple Sandpipers breed in the high arctic (further north than Churchill) and spend the winter along coastlines bordering the north Atlantic Ocean. They migrate regularly along the Hudson Bay coast but are difficult to see.

Which birds have you seen this year?

If you have any other interesting sightings, or large congregations of birds seen this season seen in Manitoba’s IBAs we would love to hear about it at iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Les espèces notables des ZICO 2020

Pluviers siffleurs à la ZICO du Whitewater Lake / Plum Lake

Les pluviers siffleurs ont été observés plusieurs fois sur la rive ouest du lac Whitewater ces dernières années. Nous sommes ravis d’annoncer qu’il y eu de multiples observations de pluviers siffleurs cette année au lac Whitewater. La première observation de l’année a été rapportée par trois ornithologues le 15 mai 2020, et celle d’un deuxième pluvier siffleur s’est faite le 13 juillet. Par la suite, il y a eu plusieurs observations d’une paire de pluviers et il est fort probable que leur tentative de nidification ait échoué. Quoi qu’il en soit, ce sont des observations prometteuses pour le Manitoba et nous nous croisons les doigts pour la prochaine saison de nidification!

Le pluvier siffleur est inscrit sur la liste des espèces en danger de disparition au Canada et au Manitoba.

Grue blanche d’Amérique à la ZICO du Whitewater Lake / Plum Lake

Une autre série d’observations notables du lac Whitewater cette année!

Une grue blanche d’Amérique a été aperçue au lac Whitewater le 21 avril 2020, sans aucun doute en migration printanière.

Une autre grue blanche d’Amérique a été vue par un observateur le 26 juillet 2020. Cet oiseau n’étant pas bagué, il s’agissait probablement d’un individu provenant de la population nicheuse du Parc national Wood Buffalo. Du 20 au 22 août, plusieurs ornithologues ont revu ce qui était probablement la même grue sur la rive ouest du lac Whitewater à proximité du site de l’observation de juillet. La grue étant au milieu d’un champ de blé, une lunette d’observation aurait facilité l’observation car l’oiseau était très éloigné.

Les grues blanches d’Amérique sont inscrites sur la liste des espèces en danger de disparition au Canada et au Manitoba.

Cygnes siffleurs à la ZICO du Saskatchewan River Delta

Joel Kayer, avec son décompte printanier de cygnes siffleurs à Carrot Valley (Près de Le Pas), a déclenché une alerte (trigger) de surnombre d’une espèce dans la base de données à la ZICO du Saskatchewan River Delta. Il a compté 26 111 individus lors d’une période d’environ deux heures le 7 mai 2020. Ce décompte a surpassé les seuils maximaux des ZICO global et régional de 3000 et 1900 individus respectivement.

Comme Joel l’a observé, il l semble que l’habitat et la météo aient réuni les « Conditions parfaites avec les marécages et les lacs gelés au nord. Beaucoup de plans d’eau recouvraient les abondants résidus de culture et des récoltes étaient toujours en andains ». L’abondance de nourriture disponible et l’incapacité des cygnes à migrer vers le nord ont ainsi provoqué un engorgement dans la région de la Carrot Valley.

Mouette de Sabine à la ZICO du Delta Marsh et à la ZICO du Saskatchewan River Delta

Mouette de Sabine. Photo de C. Nikkel.

Une mouette de Sabine immature a été observée et photographiée dans la région de Delta Beach de la ZICO du Delta Marsh par Cam Nikkel le 7 septembre. Les mouettes de Sabine sont de petites mouettes à la queue fourchue et à la coloration unique, ce qui les différencie aisément des autres espèces de mouettes. Elles nichent dans l’extrême Arctique et hivernent dans les régions côtières de l’Amérique Centrale. Toutefois, elles ne migrent pas en ligne droite, comme on pourrait s’y attendre : la majorité des individus migrent le long de la côte Ouest; elles sont donc rarement observées en migration dans le centre du Canada.

Mouette de Sabine en compagnie d’un goéland à bec cerclé. Photo de C. Nikkel.

David Raitt a aussi observé une mouette de Sabine cette année; il l’a trouvée à Sunset Beach au lac Clearwater (ZICO du Saskatchewan River Delta) le 11 juin.

Mouettes de Franklin à la ZICO du Delta Marsh

Cal Cuthbert a déclenché une alerte (trigger) de surnombre avec son décompte de mouettes de Franklin à Delta Marsh. Il a compté 15 000 mouettes le 5 septembre 2020. L’alerte a détecté un surnombre de cette espèce, les seuils maximaux des ZICO global et régional pour les mouettes de Franklin étant les deux de 9 800 individus. Ce n’était pas une première pour Cal, qui a aussi mentionné que « de son expérience au fil des années (surtout avant eBird), plusieurs congrégations de FRGU (mouettes de Franklin) se chiffraient typiquement dans les milliers et, à l’occasion, dans les dizaines de milliers, surtout avant la migration d’automne ».

Goélands bruns à la ZICO du Delta Marsh

Il y a eu plusieurs observations de goélands bruns cette année à la ZICO du Delta Marsh. La première observation était lors de la migration printanière le 5 mai à Delta Beach par Cal Cuthbert. Il a été trouvé en premier sur la Route provinciale 227 près du site d’enfouissement, puis sur un banc de sable du côté est de la plage la plus à l’est le 24 mai. Les observations se sont poursuivies régulièrement au site d’enfouissement de la Route 227 ou à proximité jusqu’au 17 septembre. Le nombre de goéland bruns variait de 1 à 3 individus à la fois au cours de la saison; cependant, des photos permettant de comparer les caractéristiques de chaque oiseau montrent qu’il y avait au moins quatre individus présents, dont seulement un adulte.

Arlequins plongeurs à la ZICO du Delta Marsh et à Willow Island

Un arlequin plongeur femelle ou immature a été trouvé à la ZICO du Delta Marsh par Rob Parsons et Jo Swartz le 24 octobre. Il était difficile à observer à cause de l’action des vagues au large de Delta Beach. Ce n’est pas le premier arlequin plongeur observé à la ZICO; un autre avait été observé en 2016 lors d’un blitz de la ZICO par Matt Gasner près de St. Ambroise à la fin août.

Un autre arlequin plongeur a été observé cet automne près de Gimli (Route Willow Island) par Jan Bradley le 8 novembre.

Râle de Virginie tardif à la ZICO du Netley-Libau Marsh

Même si ce n’est pas une espèce rare, un râle de Virginie a été trouvé (décédé) dans une cour de la ZICO du Netley-Libau Marsh le 4 novembre. L’oiseau a été découvert par Dan et Allison, et la nouvelle a été communiquée par les gardiens de la ZICO, Ryon et Hazel Blenderhassett. Les données eBird concernant la présence du râle de Virginie dans la région sont surtout en juin et juillet, avec une mention en septembre.

Chevêche des terriers à la ZICA de la Southwestern Mixed Grass Prairie

Chevêche des terriers sauvage observée à l’un des sites de nidifications dans le sud-ouest du Manitoba. Photo de C. Artuso.

Deux nids de chevêches des terriers sauvages ont été découverts dans le sud-ouest du Manitoba cette année par le Programme de rétablissement de la chevêche des terriers du Manitoba (PRCTM, ou Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program, MBORP). Le PRCTM gère un programme d’élevage en captivité, de mise en liberté et de surveillance de chevêches des terriers dans la région, et fait un suivi de l’emplacement de ses chevêches et leurs nids, ce qui permet de savoir quand une chevêche sauvage est découverte (et non un individu élevé en captivité puis relâché). Il y avait non seulement des chevêches des terriers sauvages à ces sites, mais aussi deux nichées réussies par deux couples de chevêches sauvages. Ce sont les premières présences de chevêches des terriers sauvages nichant au Manitoba depuis 2011.

Le premier couple a niché dans la ZICA de la Southwestern Mixed-Grass Prairie. Le couple a été rapporté par le propriétaire terrien qui a vu le mâle perché sur un poteau de clôture, qui a ensuite contacté le PRCTM. Un nid artificiel avait été installé par le PRCTM en 2017, et le couple de chevêches l’a utilisé. Quatre jeunes chevêches ont quitté le nid.

Une jeune chevêche des terriers du nid la ZICA de la Southwestern Mixed-Grass Prairie bagué par le PRCTM. Photo du PRCTM.

Le deuxième couple a niché près de la ZICA du Whitewater Lake et a été découvert par Alex du PRCTM alors qu’il se conduisait dans la région sud-ouest du Manitoba. Elle a dit : « J’ai trouvé l’autre nid alors que je conduisais dans la région sud-ouest du Manitoba. J’ai aperçu la chevêche mâle voler à son nid. Je l’ai observé de loin pendant un certain temps puis j’ai aperçu la femelle ». Le couple a niché dans un terrier de blaireau. Cinq jeunes chevêches ont quitté le nid.

Si vous voulez en savoir plus au sujet du Programme de rétablissement de la chevêche des terriers du Manitoba (et lire les histoires de ces chevêches et leur dénouement l’été passé), consultez les pages Facebook ou Twitter de MBORP (en anglais seulement).

Les chevêches des terriers sont inscrites sur la liste des espèces en danger de disparition au Canada et au Manitoba.

Plectrophanes à ventre noir à la ZICO de la Ellice-Archie Spy Hill

Cette observation nous est offerte par Tim Poole, qui effectuait des recensements d’oiseaux dans le Pâturage communautaire Ellice-Archie. Il a observé 67 plectrophanes à ventre noir lors de la journée du 23 juin 2020. C’était une alerte de détection pour un surnombre de couples. La journée suivante, Tim a observé 28 autres plectrophanes dans un autre secteur de la ZICO.

Les plectrophanes à ventre noir sont inscrits sur la liste des espèces menacées au Canada et au Manitoba.

Plectrophane de Smith à la ZICO du Riverton Sandy Bar

Le plectrophane (ou les plectrophanes) de Smith aperçu à la ZICO de Riverton Sandy Bar vaut aussi la peine d’être mentionné dans cette liste. Il a été aperçu en migration automnale le 24 septembre par Joanne Smith, gardienne de la ZICO, sur la langue de sable. Les listes de eBird indiquent aussi la présence de ce plectrophane les 26 et 27 septembre, toutes deux sur la langue de sable and près du stationnement de Sandy Bar. Même si les plectrophanes migrent en passant par Riverton Sandy bar, leur petite taille, leur couleur cryptique (semblable aux autres espèces) et leur tendance à s’envoler (au lieu de rester au sol) rend l’identification du plectrophane de Smith difficile! Dans le passé, cette espèce rare y a déjà été observée lors d’une visite de désherbage du banc de sable.

D’autres plectrophanes de Smith ont été observés près d’Altona (migration printanière), Fort Whyte Alive à Winnipeg (migration automnale), et Grand Beach/Grand Marais (migration automnale).

Bécasseau violet à la ZICO de Churchill and Vicinity

Avec les précautions de voyage accrues cette saison, il y a eu moins d’observations d’oiseaux provenant du nord du Manitoba. Une observation intéressante qui s’est rendue à nos oreilles était la présence d’un bécasseau violet cet automne dans la ZICO de Churchill and Vicinity. Le bécasseau violet a été observé par James Barber le 23 octobre 2020. Il a été vu à mi-chemin entre le village de Churchill et l’aéroport.

Les bécasseaux violets nichent dans l’Extrême Arctique (plus au nord que Churchill) et passent l’hiver le long des côtes de l’Atlantique Nord. Ils migrent régulièrement le long de la côte de la Baie d’Hudson mais sont difficile à apercevoir.

Quels oiseaux avez-vous observés cette année?

Si vous avez des observations intéressantes, ou si vous avez vu de grandes concentrations d’oiseaux dans les ZICO du Manitoba, nous serions ravis de l’apprendre! Vous pouvez nous contacter à iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Keeping our Native Grasslands

Manitoba’s mixed-grass prairie is a habitat that is under threat. Native prairie habitats are some of the most endangered ecosystems in Canada. While this habitat may be dismissed as “just grass” on a quick pass through on the highway, it is a complex, diverse and beautiful ecosystem. This habitat is under threats such as conversion to crop agriculture and segmentation by linear features (roads, train tracks, etc.).

Threats to the habitat, also mean threats to the species who call this habitat home. There are many bird species that specialize in a variety of habitats in the mixed-grass prairie that are listed as Species at Risk in Manitoba and Canada. These include species like the Burrowing Owl, Sprague’s Pipit, Chestnut-collard Longspur, Ferruginous Hawk, Baird’s Sparrow and Loggerhead Shrike. It also includes birds that specialize in grasslands that are not currently classified as at risk, but who still have declining populations, such as the Upland Sandpiper and Grasshopper Sparrow. The sights and sounds of these species are ubiquitous to those who live on the prairies. Unfortunately, sometimes we only know how dear to us the sights and sounds of these birds are when they are gone.

Sprague’s Pipit. This species is known for hovering high in the air while singing a musical, downward swirling song. Photo by Christian Artuso.

Almost all of the remaining native mixed-grass prairie habitat left in Manitoba is privately owned land. Nature Manitoba is one of many conservation groups working with cattle producers and landowners in Manitoba’s southwestern corner to keep this land in grass. Supporting cattle producers and other landowners who have a strong connection to, and depend on healthy mixed-grass prairie for their livelihoods is key to continuing to hold on to this threatened habitat, and the species that call it home.

Nature Manitoba is working with Birds Canada to engage landowners with grassland habitat that would like to keep or restore native mixed-grass prairie on their land. We are especially interested in working with landowners or groups of landowners wish to work together to conserve continuous portions of habitat on working landscapes.

Native mixed-grass prairie habitat in a cattle pasture near Broomhill, MB. Photo by A. Shave.

If you are interested in learning more about opportunities for incentives to keep or improving your grassland please contact Amanda at iba@naturemanitoba.ca or Ian Cook at icook@birdscanada.ca.

Manitoba IBA and Birds Canada have produced several publications to help landowners, cattle producers and conservation groups who are interested in working together to keep land in grass. You can find the links below:

Summary of Southwester Manitoba Landowner and Cattle Producer Engagement Activities in 2019

Grassland Conservation Incentives Guide: A Guide to the Incentives and Programs Available for Prairie Working Landscapes